On March the 19th the firs EVER Mental Health Occupational Therapy Congressional Briefing was held at the American Occupational Therapy Association office in Maryland, USA.
30+ attendees representing more than a dozen Congressional offices as well as the National Alliance of Mental Illness and the American Psychiatric Association, provided details about why Congress should enact the Occupational Therapy Mental Health Act (HR 3762).
The legislation would add occupational therapists to the current list of “behavioral and mental health professionals” in the National Health Services Corps (NHSC), making them eligible to participate in the NHSC Scholarship and Loan Repayment Programs. U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) along with co-sponsors U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), and Corrine Brown (D-FL), introduced the measure in December.
The briefing focused on the value of occupational therapy in mental health to mount support for the bill, which is one more way AOTA is fighting to ensure occupational therapy has a seat at relevant health care tables.
This is a major step in recognizing and promoting the work Occupational Therapist do within the Mental Health Care setting.
“On Capitol Hill, there is a broad understanding of occupational therapy related to physical health conditions. But there has not been an historic understanding of what we do as occupational therapy practitioners,” said Tim Nanof, AOTA’s director of Federal Affairs. “Our panel today really gave specific examples of how occupational therapy can change people’s lives. They provided very specific examples so the [Congressional] staffers could see from A to B how recovery happens.”
This type of action is helping to reinforce that Occupational Therapy is an essential service in all Mental Health settings when it comes to the recovery of the clients we work with.
The full story including the video of briefing can be found on the AOTA website: